2015 Terlan Pinot Bianco 'Vorberg' Riserva

I love Pinot Blanc (pardon the French spelling). It is never considered a great grape, but for a friendly white wine, it’s hard to beat.

This is the finest Pinot Blanc I’ve ever had, and it is close to if not already there as a great wine.

I’ve enjoyed the basic Pinot Bianco from Terlan dozens of times, but never had the opportunity until now to try a top bottling. There are of course echoes of Alsace, but this is ‘Vorberg’, not Grand Cru ‘Vorbourg’; if it was Grand Cru Vorbourg, it could not be Pinot Blanc, because in Alsace Pinot Blanc is not considered a varietal worthy of Grand Cru status.

This is stunning. Light to medium gold color. The aromas are subtle and a little hesitant on opening. The aromas offer floral notes, hints of peach and Anjou pear, a slight grassy note, and a flinty mineral touch. The palate more than fulfills the promise of the aromas. There is floral character, more pear than peach and now a hint of Rome apple and more minerals. But the star is the texture, some of the opulence of top Alsace Pinot Gris, but without the sugar or flaccid nature of too many of them, beautiful balancing acidity and a 30 second finish, asking for a bite of bread, parmesan and prosciutto, please please please.

I have been hoping to find a Pinot Blanc of this quality for decades. Rated 94, could improve 1 – 3 points over the next 5 - 10 years. I have one bottle left, will actively look for more as I’d really love to follow this one. A revelation.

If any board members who read this have recommendations for any other Pinot Blanc at this level, please post.

Dan Kravitz

Don’t have any other recommendations at this level, but I really enjoy Pinot Blanc and this bottling in particular. Thanks for the post as it reminds I need to replenish my stash of this wine.

I second your enthusiasm for Vorberg. And at the low to mid $30’s, it’s one of the world’s great values in white wine. The only one that I can think of that might come close is Nals Margreid ‘Sirmian’.

Is this one of the bottles I sent you? If so, cheers!

Have you had much weissburgunder? One of my favorite pinot blanc from Germany is Seehof Morstein Weissburgunder Trocken R.

A few years back Ian d’Agata did an article on Vinous on a very big vertical of this wine. It made me buy a few vintages to try and I have never been disappointed, always a fine wine and a great QPR. We’ve even served it at a few dinner parties with great appreciation from our guest so not only a ‘nerdy’ wine.

This is just a terrific wine and producer. Look forward to tasting them at 10, 15, and 20 years.

In the conversation as the finest white wine of Italy, and the best pinot blanc in the world. It will age incredibly as Kris says. Amazing that it comes from a cooperative. (They also make wonderful sauvignon blanc as you probably know.)

I don’t know another pinot bianco that surpasses this, but others I’ve enjoyed are from Masut da Rive and Doro Princic.

Whether you find them to be at this level or not it is hard to say but I would recommend you try the following if available:

Azienda Agricola Longariva Pinot Bianco Pergole
Anton Bauer Ried Kirchthal Pinot Blanc

Both are very much on the serious side with good concentration and power. Something to drink close to room temp with e.g. rich seafood dishes or a risotto.

Dan, I think another fantastic one is the 2016 Girlan Pinot Bianco Plattenriegl. Not sure if it makes it to your area, but if so give it a whirl.

Not really. I’ve sampled quite a bit of Pinot Blanc and to this day Vorberg remains hands-down the best example of the variety. There are lots of great Pinot Blancs out there, but none of them are at the level of Vorberg.

Quite often the wine can come across seemingly pedestrian and unimpressive in its youth, but normally the lesser vintages require some 10-15 years from the vintage to show their best. I don’t know how much the best vintages require, since the best vintages that I’ve had have been still ridiculously youthful at the age of 20 years.

Nals-Margreid Pinot Bianco is a great contender for a stunning Italian Pinot Blanc. They make some exceptional Weissburgunders in Germany, too. Thörle, Dautel and Philipp Kuhn have made some of the most impressive efforts, but Pfannebecker’s single vineyard Weissburgunders are terrific too, although slightly on the rich, weightier side. All of these listed wines tend to require some cellaring before they start to show their best.

I’ve had several vintages of Terlan gewurz which is a very nice wine and a good value. Unfortunately their Pinot Blanco is much harder to find. I found a couple of California merchants who have a little, but neither can ship to Ohio.

The Sauvignon ‘Winkl’ is also a fine, intense bottle whenever I’ve tried it. Not for those who don’t like the SB character, though.

My favorite is Messmer Schlossgarten GG, but I haven’t been able to get it for a few years. I am pretty sure no one brings it into the US anymore. This bottling is also one of the best I have had. I wish I could remember the producer, but Theise/Skurnik brought in one from the mid-1990s fewer than 10 years ago that was tremendous. It was Austrian. I also love the Seehof Morstein, even if it doesn’t quite achieve the complexity of the riper, more concentrated Messmer. I’ve been able to get the Seehof more recently, so I drink it happily. I suspect Pinot Blanc isn’t eligible for Grand Cru status in Alsace because no one was trying to make a great wine with it, not because it wasn’t possible. Of course, most of the ones I’ve had from anywhere are extremely boring, so who knows? The grape can make compelling, ageworthy sweet wines too, and I think that’s probably possible in Alsace even if dry wine is more challenging.

Thanks for all of the replies.

A few comments:

I never heard of this until now, but it’s available and I will find some and try it, and if it’s even close in quality it will become part of my cellar.

A number of posters mentioned Weissburgunder and I’ve had a few. In fact, I used to import a good (not great) one from the Vier Jahrezeiten Cooperative. I will look for some, but apparently (sadly) top Pinot Blancs from anyone, anywhere, are thin on the ground in this country.


While I’m at it, any recommendations for outstanding bottlings from Alsace? Feel free to include Auxerroise.


I’ll look for this one as well. Apparently northern Italy is Ground Zero for this grape. Thanks also to Marshall Manning, Ilkkat and Chris C for their reccos.


To Chris C: I appreciate your recommendations but find your post offensive: “Amazing that it comes from a cooperative.”
Why should it be amazing that possibly the finest white wine of Italy and best Pinot Blanc in the world comes from a Cooperative?


I belong to a winemaking cooperative that IMO is does not yet produce great wine, but we are trying, and our best wines are already extremely fine. I will not post on them, but anybody interested in top Roussillon wines can PM me for deteails.

Produttori Barbaresco arguably produces great wine, not the greatest in Italy, much less Piedmont, but think what they might accomplish if their members had top holdings in Barolo?

Commercial post: I import the wines of the Cave de Tain l’Hermitage to the U.S. IMO this Cooperative is among the very greatest wine producers in the world, with a range of wines from good rare inexpensive IGP Northern Rhone Syrahs to very great Hermitage. In 2010 their top red Hermitage bottling garnered a 98 point rating. I tasted it blind with other wine professionals along with two other 2010 Hermitage reds that were rated 99+ and 100. It was extremely hard to judge, but when the notes were tallied, the Cave de Tain wine came out ahead. Sure, there are literally thousands of cooperative wineries that make mediocre wine at best, but there are at least dozens that regularly make great wine. I repeat, why should it be amazing that great wine comes from a Cooperative?

Dan Kravitz

Was not at all intended to be offensive (is “offensive” really what you were intending?). I just think that the list of wines that are the best of their genre, made by cooperatives, is very short.

Terlano Vorberg is one candidate. Cantina Santadi ‘Terre Brune’ Carignano del Sulcis is another. Obviously Produttori del Barbaresco make great wines, and I tend to think of them as the most prominent and high-quality cooperative relative to their peers, but even here I don’t think they make the very best Barbaresco.

I am not as familiar with cooperatives in France. (It would not have occurred to me that Chave does not make the best Hermitage, but possibly the Tain cooperative’s version is superior. Haven’t had the chance to try it.) The story of “we used to sell our grapes to the cooperative, then someone from the younger generation took over and we started to make our own wine, way better than what the cooperative ever produced” is a familiar one. None of which is to suggest that cooperatives can’t or don’t make excellent wines. But then, I never suggested or implied any such thing.

Enjoy!

Cooperatives certainly have a bad name in Italy as a whole, and the majority have probably earned it. There are enough excellent ones that it doesn’t surprise me to come across a top bottling that’s from a cooperative. Let’s not forget Abbazia di Novacella in Alto Adige as another standout example.

On the topic of great Co-ops, Domäne Wachau belongs to the top echelon along with the names like Cantina Terlano and Produttori del Barbaresco. Abbazia di Novacella is great - as is surprisingly many co-op in Alto Adige - but I’ve yet to taste a wine from them that would warrant a place at the top. However, maybe I just haven’t tasted enough of their wines yet.

I don’t argue against the many great co-ops in Südtirol, but Kloster Neustift is not one of them - as it is not a co-op.

Chris.C. - I did find your comment offensive, but after your explanation, I understand that I took it the wrong way. I apologize.

I agree that the list of the best wines of their type made by Cooperatives is very short. And I am far from sure that the best wines of the Cave de Tain are better than the best wines of Chave. If some billionaire would care to put together a multi-decade tasting (of course also including Chapoutier, Jaboulet-Aine, Sorrel and Guigal) and invite me, I will show up [cheers.gif].

But it should not be shocking that the best Co-op wines are competitive.

I absolutely agree that Domaine Wachau makes very great wines. However I did not know that the Abbazia di Novacella was a Cooperative, I always thought it was a monastery, as such, a private property belonging to the Catholic Church.

To make great wine, you need great vineyards and one reason so few Cooperatives make great wine is that the grower-members rarely hold title to vineyards in the world’s finest terroirs. Among the rare exceptions in France, besides the Cave de Tain, are La Chablisienne and Champagne Mailly. The Cave d’Esterzargues produces incredibly good wines, but the grower-members don’t own great vineyards, so the result is just Cotes du Rhone, albeit at an extremely high level.

Dan Kravitz

This is what I thought myself as well since it sounded rather weird, but before making my original comment, I looked further into matters and found this piece:

Today Abbazia di Novacella has 25 hectares of land, but controls and processes the grapes from the 50 hectares of the members of the cooperative, its exclusive suppliers.

https://www.callmewine.com/en/winery/abbazia-di-novacella-B219.htm

Having not visited the winery, I really have no idea how they operate and thus can’t comment on if that is accurate or not. Also this piece doesn’t really elaborate whether the wines made from the grapes “controlled and processed” by Abbazia di Novacella are vinified into their own wines or into wholly separate co-op wines.